As Minnesota's unemployment rate sits at 4.3 percent, there's no doubt the job market has improved since the days of the recession. Yet thousands are still unemployed, and how the jobs picture looks depends largely on which side you're sitting.
At the Minnesota WorkForce Center in Brooklyn Park, job seeker Chris Gunn, a 56-year-old IT professional, is walking into a crucial part of the job search: a networking class.
Gunn introduces himself to the class as a data modeler and data architect. He's been searching for work for almost a year after being laid off at General Mills.
"Looking for a job right now is difficult. It's a full-time job," said Gunn. "I network in the morning, and I apply for jobs in the afternoon."
This month, Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development reported job vacancies in the state have reached a 13-year high with 84,700 openings in the second quarter. Yet 42 percent of the job vacancies were for part-time employment and the median wage offer was $12.05 per hour.
After 11 years as an employment counselor, Cynthia Wilson knows the job market is better now for her clients than it was just a year ago.
"They're not necessarily accepting jobs that are comparable to where they've been, but they're definitely finding employment," said Wilson, who works for Twin Cities-based nonprofit HIRED.
Wilson says it's taking her clients on average six to eight months to find a new position, though Wilson's case load has dropped to about 80 job seekers compared to 140 last year.
"You see folks coming through the doors often, but as they come in the door, there are also folks that are going back out the door," said Wilson.
For Chris Gunn, the job search is best described as a roller coaster of emotions, but he's feeling optimistic thanks to networking groups and job counseling and skills training through HIRED at the WorkForce Center.
"In the last month or so, I've felt closer than I have in the previous nine months," said Gunn.
Alexandra Renslo reporting http://twelve.tv http://www.facebook.com/12localnews http://twitter.com/12Sports
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